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Sasquatch 2006 coverage...
BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH

May 21, 2006
by Katie Sauro

Far from the traditional Sasquatch band, Bedouin Soundclash fuses reggae, ska, and rockabilly into Clash-inspired dance beats and rootsy jungle rhythms. And, as strange as it may seem, this Bob Marley-sounding trio hails from Canada—and are damn proud of it. Their latest album,
Sounding a Mosaic, came out last year on punk label Side One Dummy, home to Flogging Molly and the Casualties, an eclectic mix of passionate up-tempo backbeats and slower acoustic numbers. Their Sasquatch set will make for the perfect excuse to kick off those hot, sweaty summer sandals, and dance and sway under the blazing sun to reggae beats, a completely different experience than anything else at the festival. And as Bedouin bassist Eon Sinclair tells us, being different ain’t so bad.

Everyone’s making a big deal about a reggae band coming out of Canada—what do you think about that?

For us, it makes a lot of sense because growing up in Canada you get exposed to a lot of different things. One of the biggest communities is actually the West Indies community, the Caribbean community, so reggae is just a staple of growing up in Canada. A lot of people don’t know that. So for us to play music that’s based in reggae is really not as strange as it sounds to the rest of the world. For a lot of people in Canada, it’s just a part of living there. But what makes it really cool is that because there are so many different cultures living there you have the opportunity to hear so many different kinds of music that you know just straight reggae would be even stranger I think than to do the kind of stuff that we do, which you know is mixing it with rock, pop, jungle, drum ‘n bass, whatever.

You guys played Warped Tour last year—how was that?

It was a good experience, it was really interesting, I mean, Warped Tour you know it started off as a really traditionally punk kind of tour, and slowly over time, it’s changed and the lineup has been more diverse. Last year’s lineup was really heavy, there was a lot of screamo, and a lot of almost metal bands and then other than that, the pop-punk bands, you know Fall Out Boy, all those kinds of bands. So it didn’t really leave much room for a band that was doing something kinda like what we were doing.

Reggae.

Right. But what it did mean was that we stood out a lot. And so people on the tour really became big fans and supportive of what we were doing, and that helped us to really break into the states and introduced us to the states in a good way.

That’s kind of the same thing with Sasquatch, right? I mean, you guys don’t really fit the traditional “indie” category that Sasquatch usually gets.


Right.

Does that bother you?

No, it never bothers us, actually. Sasquatch will be a lot better for us, I think, just because the nature of that festival, it’s not really geared toward a specific audience, I would say. They have quite a variety of types of bands, you know like Ben Harper, and girl bands, and Sam Roberts from Canada, and bands like that. They’re all a little bit different, so they’re appealing to a bunch of people, and people come to that festival knowing that they’re gonna see a lot of different things, and approach it a lot more openly than you know the kids that come to Warped Tour would. They’re coming looking for a specific kind of band and they get that.

Do you like playing festivals or regular club shows?


I like both (laughs). But like festivals are really cool because like I was just saying, a lot of people come with a specific band in mind, but they’re also coming knowing they’re gonna get a bunch of other bands, and they’re willing to explore those other bands. With a club show, everybody that’s there to see you is there to see you, so you know having people that know where you’re coming from and you know are really interested in the music you’re making and are supportive of that, makes it a really good environment to play in because it’s really inclusive. We like both, but festivals are a good way to reach a lot of people really quickly.

Why do you think you were asked to play Sasquatch this year?

I guess our past year in Canada was really good, we gained a lot of new fans and were really successful. Also, I think we’re doing a few shows with Ben Harper, heading up that way, and I think that association also helped the organizers of Sasquatch to you know include us in the festival. But there’s also just a bunch of Canadian bands going there that we know, and I think that it looks like the kind of festival where they’re looking to Canada and to other places for new music. And I guess we fall into this category this year, which is cool.

Definitely. So yesterday when I talked to you, you said you were in the studio, are you guys writing new material?

Actually, yeah, we have an album that’s kinda still in progress. We recorded pretty much all the tracks in February of last year so they’re done. We’re not really sure when we’re gonna be releasing it yet, probably next summer, but we’re always trying to write new ones, there’s always ideas floating around, and when they come, we just kinda go with ‘em… When we’re in a situation where it’s time to record again, we’re kinda ahead of the curve a bit.  It’s kind of nice because we’ve pretty much always been ahead of schedule in terms of coming up with new material, because a lot of bands go into the studio and have to struggle to think of something and kind of rush to make a product. But because we’re always working on different things, we’re always ready for that situation, and I think that makes the album a little more consistent and a little bit more a complete thing.

Are you still incorporating all different kinds of music in this new album?

Yeah yeah, definitely. How our sound is made is by all the certain types of things that we’re listening to… I think that helps with our sound. I think that’s always gonna be at the heart of any music that we make, there’s always going to be a fusion of the three of our taste in music.

Back to the reggae thing for a minute. It traditionally deals with struggle and racial and political strife, do you guys include that kind of thing in your songs?

Not specifically those issues, but I mean some of the songs definitely deal with social issues, and Jay is the primary song writer and lyricist, but a lot of the things that he draws inspiration from are things that happen to people he knows or things that he’s read about or things that happen around us wherever we are or the place that we live. There’ll always be messages that deal with injustice and such, but definitely in a way that’s not so overt as a lot of reggae, I guess, musicians traditionally do because that’s not our experience. We didn’t share all those same struggles and you know have those really really difficult upbringings that… pre-independence Jamaica did, so it’s not something we’re gonna talk about in our music.

But it’s important to you to address social issues, though maybe not as explicitly?

It’s one of those things that if we feel close to a cause, or something affects us or someone we know in a way that we feel is not getting enough attention brought to it, then sure we’d be willing to include that kind of stuff in the lyrics and the music that we make, but again we don’t specifically go out to write songs that deal with politics of the day necessarily. I think a lot of them are just more… they’re just stories about people and by writing those kinds of stories, it helps a lot more people to get into our music more universally because really we only speak to causes… I think it’s only fair to speak to causes that you’re experiencing. But conversely, if you don’t do that, then only the people that share that experience really understand what you’re saying. By keeping it a little bit more general, it helps the music reach… it’s way more far-reaching.

Is there anything that you’d consciously not write about in order to not “turn off” people?


Like something that we would not want to talk about because it would do more harm than good?

Exactly.

I’m sure there’s probably a lot of things. We’ve never spoken to drug-related issues or guns or anything going into detail about criminal activity or stuff like that because I think a lot of people don’t realize that by doing that, you’re just publicizing a lifestyle that not everybody is smart enough to see through. Some people actually start like trying to live that lifestyle and it’s really not a good thing.Yeah, we don’t talk about smoking weed or shooting people in our neighborhood, and all that stuff exists in our neighborhood, but you know we avoid talking about it because it doesn’t do any good for the cause, really.

Well, let’s take a break from all the negativity…


(Laughs)

I’ll just ask one last question and let you go. I know a lot of people struggle with the band’s name. Is that a problem? Does that happen often?


It happens all the time (laughs).  It doesn’t really give us a problem… it’s a problem when they never get the name right (laughs) and they forget all of our music and they never get into what we’re doing, then it’s a little bit of a problem. But generally what we find happens is after a couple of repetitions or giving them stickers or pointing to a t-shirt on the wall, people usually get it. Because it’s such a different sounding name and kind of a strange mixture of words for people, it just sticks with them. That’s kind of how it happened with us. When Jay suggested it as our band name, it was really foreign to both me and Pat, and we were like, ‘That’s really weird.’ But we just put it on our poster and after that it was fine. We find that yeah, people do have trouble with it off the jump, but after a couple times hearing it or seeing it, they don’t forget it really, so it’s kind of nice that way.


Bedouin Soundclash plays the Wookie Stage at 12 noon on Saturday. For a complete schedule, head to www.sasquatchfestival.com